Sunday, December 7, 2008

Coasting on the Ivory Coast and Other Bad Puns: Selling Ivory

3) Coasting on the Ivory Coast and Other Bad Puns

Plastics. That's what the guy said the future would be in "The Graduate."

I have two other words for you: ivory. And turquoise. OK, so that's three words, but you get the idea.

These are the substances in what I think are some of the last under-the radar finds in the costume jewelry bins at estate sales. (And we know the fine jewelry in the case can have some not-so-great prices).

At first I hesitated to share this tip, lest any of you out there might be going to the same sales as I. But I think the odds of that are slim, and in general it's better to share information, especially in my business. (And what business would that be, you ask? Why, sharing information and selling ebooks!). And even if we are going to the same sales, there's usually plenty for everyone.

Ivory is not for everyone, and you need to carry a loupe or magnifying glass on you to sales so you can examine the pieces for the giveaway cross-hatching and striating that will show it to be real ivory. It's also close to white or white/uniform in color, whereas bone tends to be darker.

Another thing about real ivory is that it will be heavy compared to plastic. And the ultimate test, to be done at home, is to light the sharp tip of a safety pin and touch it to a not-so-noticeable surface of the piece, and see if the piece burns. If it doesn't melt, but you smell a substance skin to when a dentist drills your teeth, it's real ivory.

The carved pieces tend to do best, and I've found that pieces that sell for a couple bucks will go for $30-$100 and up.

Happy hunting! Be sure to follow eBay's rules about listing real ivory.

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